I want to achieve something – promising Northern Cape teen athlete

2016-07-07 09:48
Promising Northern Cape teen athlete, Gianno Peddy. He wants to be a role model for young people in his area. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Promising Northern Cape teen athlete, Gianno Peddy. He wants to be a role model for young people in his area. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Springbok – In a small Northern Cape town where many youngsters spend their spare time drinking and smoking, teenager Gianno Peddy wants to break the mould and be a role model through his running.

The lanky 17-year-old from Okiep has already exceeded many expectations under the watchful eye of coach Mario Baadjies.

Two of the teen's race times have been officially recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

He ran a time of 10.56 seconds in the 100m race at the SA School Athletics in Bloemfontein in March this year. In the SA Youth Championships in Germiston the following month, he attained 21.06 seconds in the 200m.

In the provincial interschools and interhouse competitions this year, he broke six records.

Every morning at 06:00, the matric pupil hops onto the bus to get to his daily training sessions in Springbok, about 10km away. 

Inspiring others

"I told my friends: 'Don't laugh at me when I go training. I want to achieve something in my life," Peddy told News24.

"Young people don't want to make sacrifices. Maybe I must step up and be the role model."

His coach believes he is already inspiring others.

Describing him as humble, Baadjies believed the teen had a bright future.

"The other day we were in Spar and a youngster said to his mother, 'There's Peddy, there's Peddy.' I thank the Lord that I have created a role model."

Peddy trains at his coach's gym, Namakwa Fitness, in a big hall at the showgrounds in Springbok.

Baadjies, 37, who moved from Cape Town 11 years ago, is passionate about youth development.

From grassroots level up

Around 10 teenagers took part in his winter training programme during the school holidays. His goal was for them to remain active and have fun.

"Every time I drive from my house [in Bergsig] to here, I see kids are fighting. What am I going to do to make a change? I have to get them away from the bad and teach them something fruitful."

He said that not every child could afford to go to the elite sporting schools. "My aim is to start from grassroots level up."

While some people frown upon supplements such as creatine, Baadjies said his athletes need balanced nutrition.

They come from households where they have bread, tea and coffee, and if they are lucky, polony or chicken.

An important lesson for them to learn is that nothing comes without hard work, he said.

Getting over hurdles

Baadjies knows all about hard work. He also coached provincial sports, gave motivational talks, offered exercise training to primary schools and creches and worked in the United States as a fitness specialist at one point.

The teens' faces lit up on Tuesday morning as he encouraged them and gently corrected their movements or offered advice.

Bursting with pride, he said: "I'm living my dream to help kids and make them champions."

"There are lots of hurdles out there. But I am an athletics coach. I teach people how to get over hurdles."

Peddy has thought about the possibility of representing South Africa at the Olympics.

His feet, however, remain firmly on the ground and he is taking each day as it comes.

"My mom taught me that patience is key to success and you will have to wait for the right moment to achieve."

Watch the coach and his students in action:

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